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Sleep your way to a healthier heart

A woman sleeps in a bed.

Oct. 18, 2021—Getting a full night's sleep doesn't just feel amazing. It does amazing things for your heart.

In a study published in the journal Circulation, adults who routinely got high-quality sleep had a 42% lower risk of developing heart failure over the next 10 years.

Which sleep patterns made a positive difference? The heart-healthiest sleepers:

  • Got 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night.
  • Were early birds (morning risers).
  • Rarely had insomnia.
  • Didn't snore.
  • Didn't experience much daytime sleepiness.

Sleep tight, sweet heart

According to the American Heart Association, 1 in 3 adults doesn't get enough sleep. That can set you up for a host of health problems that may affect your heart health, including heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, to name a few.

To help improve your sleep, try these four healthy habits:

1. Stick to a schedule. Going to bed every night and waking up every morning at the same time can help you maintain a healthy sleep cycle.

2. Limit sugary, caffeinated or alcoholic drinks. They can cause you to wake up more often during the night.

3. Stay active. Exercising is great for your heart and your sleep, as long as it's not too close to bedtime. It can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep throughout the night.

4. Use light cues. Getting a little natural light early in the day can help with sleep later on. So can turning off smartphone screens and other lighted devices in the evening.

What's keeping you up?

If you're still having trouble getting enough shut-eye, a good next step is to keep a sleep diary for two weeks. Write down how much sleep you got (including naps), how you felt when you woke up and any times you felt sleepy during the day. That may help you spot some patterns.

It's a good idea to talk with your doctor if you:

  • Often have trouble sleeping.
  • Often feel sleepy during the day.
  • Don't feel refreshed when you wake up.
  • Snore loudly or wake up gasping or out of breath.
  • Are having trouble adjusting to shift work.

Share your sleep diary with your doctor. That may give them a better idea of what's going on and whether a sleep study might be right for you.

Think you might have a sleep disorder? Take this quick assessment and share the results with your doctor.

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